What is the Difference Between a Surge Protector and a Power Strip?

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What is the difference between a surge protector and a power strip? Are you even aware that they are different? Some would think they are both power strips but with different names. Though for those who are more technical, they would know there is a big difference between the two products.

In this post, we will try to distinguish the difference between a surge protector and a power strip. We will be providing you with information about their importance and what benefits we can get from using these products. Let’s get started.

​​​​What is a power strip?

A power strip, or sometimes known as an extension block, is a device that has multiple sockets and a power cord. It can power multiple devices all at the same from one electrical outlet. We often use power strips when we need to power several devices at once, but there’s a limited number of power outlets.

Sometimes, there are power strips that include circuit breakers to block electrical overloads or a short circuit. Some have a master switch or individual ones for each outlet. There are also different housing styles for this extension device. Aside from the strip, you can also find ones in rack mounts, under-monitor, and direct plug-ins.

Most power strips have an LED light indicator to show if it’s turned on or off. Just like the switch, it can be a master light indicator or one indicator for each outlet. There are extension blocks that are equipped with an energy saving function. It automatically turns off when the connected appliances are in standby mode.

What is a surge protector?

A surge protector or spike suppressor is a device that was designed to protect your appliances or other electrical devices from an erratic power supply or a power surge. An electrical spike happens without notice and may last between 1-30 microseconds. One electrical surge may reach up to 1,000 volts or more, which can damage electrical wirings or your appliances.

A power surge is an increase in voltage that is much higher than the normal range. A surge protector’s primary purpose is to limit the energy going into the device to a safe threshold during power surges to protect the appliance from breaking.

Surge is what we call the increase in voltage that usually lasts three nanoseconds or more. On the other hand, a spike is an increase in energy that lasts for one or two nanoseconds.

What is the Difference Between a Surge Protector and a Power Strip?

A power strip lets you connect several devices into it so they can power up all at the same time without having to use the limited number or power outlets you have at home or in the office.

You might say that you can do the same thing with a surge protector. You are correct. You can also connect several devices to a surge protector at once, but it will also protect the devices connected to it from power surges. That is the big difference between a standard power strip and a surge protector.

One way of knowing if what you are buying is a surge protector is to look for the Joules energy rating and how much voltage it can absorb from a power surge. That information is generally found on the box it came in with or on the device itself.

How do surge protectors work?

A regular surge protector receives the energy from the main electrical outlet then distributes it to all the devices connected to the protector. When there’s a power surge or a power spike from the main outlet, the surge protector will redirect the excess electricity to the grounding line of the outlet.

Power surges happen due to different reasons. One is lightning. When lightning strikes near a power line, the electrical energy can increase the electrical pressure as high as a million volts. Another cause of a power surge is the use of high power electrical devices like refrigerators and air conditioners.

These appliances need a lot of energy to turn on and off. This exchange of switching on and turning off such devices disrupts the normal flow of power in the system. Though not as overwhelming as lightning, this kind of surge can still damage your device if you are not using surge protectors.

Faulty wiring or problems with your utility company’s equipment that may result in power outages are also reasons why there’s an uneven flow of energy that causes power surges.

What are the benefits of using a surge protector?

As we have discussed above, a surge protector can do much more than provide you with additional electrical sockets for your devices. They stop electronic shortages from power surges that can damage your electronic devices. Surge protectors absorb most of the power to prevent it from damaging your equipment. It can also prevent fires from happening.

With the current situation of electricity supply, power surges are inevitable. That is the reason why we need to have a good surge protector for our electronic devices and appliances.

You might be thinking why surge protectors were not required in the past as much as they are today. It’s because the modern equipment we have today is more complicated than the ones used by our parents or grandparents. Some of the components in these modern devices are more sensitive to power spikes.


What is the difference between a surge protector and a power strip? That was our initial question at the start of this article. We have defined each product and learned their functions. Based on what we have learned, we can say that having a surge protector is essential. It can protect your electronic investments from damage during a power surge.

Before buying a surge protector for your home, decide first what needs protecting so you will know what kind to buy. If you need protection for your expensive appliances and computers, buy a surge protector that might be a little pricey but more reliable when it comes to security.

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